A knife grinder

Beijing 1871 - 1872

archive photo of Chinese man with a wooden cart

© The Wellcome Library, London

The street remained a place of fascination for Thomson and the street life of both Asia and London occupied a central place in his work. As the capital of the Qing Empire, Beijing and its streets were described by Thomson as "highly picturesque and interesting". People formed an essential part of this picturesque charm, particularly the traders and artisans who plied their skills and wares along the streets. This photograph of a travelling knife grinder reveals that his workbench was also a cart, which he pushed around little hutongs, looking for customers.

Chinese translation

A pdf of the information about this image in Chinese is also available to download:

Chinese translation|